Nate Chinen

Director of Editorial Content

Nate Chinen has been writing about jazz for more than 20 years.

He spent a dozen of them working as a critic for The New York Times, and helmed a long-running column for JazzTimes. As Director of Editorial Content at WBGO, Chinen works with the multiplatform program Jazz Night in America and contributes a range of coverage to NPR Music.

He is author of Playing Changes: Jazz For the New Centurypublished in hardcover by Pantheon in 2018, and on paperback by Vintage in 2019. Hailed as one of the Best Books of the Year by NPR, GQ, Billboard, and JazzTimes, it's a chronicle of jazz in our time, and an argument for the music's continuing relevance. It has also been published internationally, in Italian and Spanish editions. 

A thirteen-time winner of the Helen Dance–Robert Palmer Award for Excellence in Writing, presented by the Jazz Journalists Association, Chinen is also coauthor of Myself Among Others: A Life in Music, the 2003 autobiography of festival impresario and producer George Wein, which earned the JJA’s award for Best Book About Jazz.

Chinen was born in Honolulu, to a musical family: his parents were popular nightclub entertainers, and he grew up around the local Musicians Union. He went to college on the east coast and began writing about jazz in 1996, at the Philadelphia City Paper. His byline has also appeared in a range of national music publications, including DownBeat, Blender and Vibe. For several years he was the jazz critic for Weekend America, a radio program syndicated by American Public Media. And from 2003 to 2005 he covered jazz for the Village Voice.

His work appears in Best Music Writing 2011 (Da Capo); Pop When the World Falls Apart: Music in the Shadow of Doubt (Duke University Press, 2012), and Miles Davis: The Complete Illustrated History (Voyageur Press, 2012).

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Gabriel Bertogg

“The purest thing between heaven and earth is love,” says Abdullah Ibrahim, “and sincerity is the gatekeeper.”

This morsel of metaphysical insight — offered casually but with ringing purpose — arrived near the midpoint of Ibrahim’s session on Afternoon Jazz. The venerable South African pianist, long regarded as both a maestro and a sage, was settling in for an engagement at the Jazz Standard, with his longtime band Ekaya.

NPR

"Jazz built for arenas."

A friend and former rock critic shared this admiring assessment of Sons of Kemet, after seeing the band for the first time at this year's Big Ears Festival. There's obviously truth in it: Over the last eight years, Sons of Kemet has not only fueled the fires of a raging London jazz scene; it has also scaled up the pyrotechnics, in strictly musical terms.

JP Jazz Archive/Redferns/Getty Images

Cannonball Adderley was a mere 46 when he died, of a brain hemorrhage, in 1975. An alto saxophonist of robust intellect and irrefutable soul, he left a monumental legacy during his two decades in the spotlight — as a member of the Miles Davis Sextet, an exemplar of 1960s soul jazz and the leading avatar of a brand of post-bop modernism with popular appeal.

"Jazz built for arenas."

A friend and former rock critic shared this admiring assessment of Sons of Kemet, after seeing the band for the first time at this year's Big Ears Festival. There's obviously truth in it: Over the last eight years, Sons of Kemet has not only fueled the fires of a raging London jazz scene; it has also scaled up the pyrotechnics, in strictly musical terms.

The Newport Jazz Festival is upon us, and with it comes a rash of tough decisions.

Cannonball Adderley was a mere 46 when he died, of a brain hemorrhage, in 1975. An alto saxophonist of robust intellect and irrefutable soul, he left a monumental legacy during his two decades in the spotlight — as a member of the Miles Davis Sextet, an exemplar of 1960s soul jazz and the leading avatar of a brand of post-bop modernism with popular appeal.

Shervin Lainez

And introducing SPAGA, a new trio led by pianist Aron Magner of The Disco Biscuits.

Anna Yatskevich

Billy Lester was 18, a few years into his training as a jazz pianist, when he first saw Lennie Tristano on the bandstand. It’s fair to say the experience changed his life.

Sully Sullivan

Along with gripping new music by the avant-garde super trio Alcorn / McPhee / Vandermark, pianist Victor Gould, and the late alto saxophonist Art Pepper.

Jon Batiste was a highly regarded but not especially famous jazz pianist when he first recorded a tune called “Creative,” on his 2013 album Jazz is Now.

Deborah Feingold

Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, drummer Makaya McCraven and vocalist-producer Georgia Anne Muldrow are among the artists performing this fall on the fifth annual edition of BRIC Jazzfest, according to an announcement made this afternoon.

Courtesy of the artist

Terri Lyne Carrington and George Lewis have been honored as 2019 Doris Duke Artists, sharing that distinction with innovators in theater and contemporary dance. The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation announced the awards this morning.

Each Doris Duke Artist receives an award of $275,000, most of which is entirely unrestricted. ($25,000 is earmarked for retirement savings and later life needs.)

Nathan West

Also: new music by Al Foster, Jeremy Udden, Aaron Novik and Keiko Matsui.

Erika Nj Allen

Righteous new music by the J.D. Allen Trio, William Parker’s In Order to Survive, Matthew Whitaker and more.

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

John Patitucci has long been easily identifiable by his warm, singing tone on the bass, and by the nimble authority of his playing. A linchpin of the Wayne Shorter Quartet and a longtime associate of Chick Corea, he recently added an intimate new entry to his own discography: a first-ever solo recording, Soul of the Bass.

Josh Goleman

Plus: new music by Nature Work, ¿Que Vola? and Melissa Gardiner.

Emmanuel Afolabi

Near the midpoint of her second set at the Jazz Standard on Wednesday night, Jazzmeia Horn dove into a sharp new original, “When I Say.” Snapping her fingers in a decisive four-count, she led her band in an expression of indignant demand; for most of the first verse, she sang with one hand planted on a jutting hip.

Desmond White

(And by "other gifts," we mean an irresistible groove from Avishai Cohen; a mysterious swirl by Ben LaMar Gay and JayVe Montgomery; and a choice morsel of Andy Summers playing Thelonious Monk.)

Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes, a stylish and engaging new documentary by Sophie Huber, opens in the recording studio, with a top-tier crew of modern jazz musicians going about their business. From his station behind a keyboard rig, Robert Glasper calls out ideas for an arrangement; Ambrose Akinmusire's trumpet, warming up, can be heard in the background. An establishing shot introduces Don Was, the musical polymath serving as Blue Note's president, as a hipster Buddha in the control booth.

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

For Living Lovers — an improvising chamber duo composed of Brandon Ross on acoustic guitar and Stomu Takeishi on acoustic bass guitar — makes quietude feel like anything but a restriction. In a recent performance at the WBGO Yamaha Salon in midtown Manhattan, its music felt expansive and spacious, setting the stage for an immersive sort of listening. 

Courtesy of the artist

Plus: Wynton Marsalis airs symphonic ambitions and Andrew Cyrille receives his due.

Courtesy of the artist

"I don't believe America was founded to be one dimensional," pianist Cyrus Chestnut asserts. "It's various different people coming together, quote unquote, to develop something hip."

Chestnut is referring, in part, to a conversation between jazz, gospel and classical music that has been ongoing for well over a century. But he's also describing Carry Me Home,his decade-long collaboration with the Turtle Island Quartet, the subject of this episode of Jazz Night in America.

"I don't believe America was founded to be one dimensional," pianist Cyrus Chestnut asserts. "It's various different people coming together, quote unquote, to develop something hip."

YouTube

For as long as Esperanza Spalding has been in the public eye, she's been defined in part by her hair.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple playlists at the bottom of the page.


"I sing for answers," declares Bill Callahan at one point on his calmly revelatory new album, Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest. "I sing for good listeners," he adds. "And tired dancers."

NPR

Some musicians don't have to expend much effort to achieve radiance.

Camila Meza is one of these — a singer-songwriter and improvising guitarist originally from Santiago, Chile, and now a luminous fixture on the scene in New York. Ámbar, her major-label debut, just out on Masterworks, captures the deep synthesis in her music, with a chamber-jazz cohort she calls the Nectar Orchestra.

A wave of shock and sadness moved through the jazz community on Sunday, with news of the death of Lawrence Lo Leathers, a drummer with a steadfast presence in the modern jazz mainstream.

Leathers was 37. He was killed on Sunday in the hallway of an apartment building on East 141st Street in the Bronx neighborhood of Mott Haven, according to Detective Martin Brown of the NYPD. The police have arrested a suspect in connection to the incident.

Craig Lovell / Corbis via Getty Images

A wave of shock and sadness moved through the jazz community on Sunday, with news of the death of Lawrence Lo Leathers, a drummer with a steadfast presence in the modern jazz mainstream.

Leathers was 37. He was killed on Sunday in the hallway of an apartment building on East 141st Street in the Bronx neighborhood of Mott Haven, according to Detective Martin Brown of the NYPD. The police have arrested a suspect in connection to the incident.

Along with the latest by the Anat Fort Trio and Sam Newsome — and a 20-year-old stunner from Paul Bley, Gary Peacock and Paul Motian.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Bandcamp playlist at the bottom of the page.

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